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Do Your Eating Habits Make Your Co-Workers Want to Punch You in the Face?


Picture this: it's lunchtime and the office kitchen is crowded with people using the microwave. The smells start to aggregate. A Lean Cuisine here. Leftover lo mein there. Then, before anyone can intervene, some fool coworker commits the biggest offense of all: he or she reheats last night's trout dinner. For the rest of the day, the office smells like the deck of a fisherman's vessel on a hot day.

Have you been a victim of Smelly Food? Or worse, are you the perpetrator — the insensitive, clueless turkey who burns the everloving daylights out of microwave popcorn, allowing that awful artificial-butter-on-fire smell to permeate the office? If so, it’s time for an intervention, PayScale-style. We asked our friends, family, and co-workers here at PayScale to share their lists of most annoying eating habits of their coworkers.

Foods That Drive Us Crazy 

  • Reheated fish. Because gross. 
  • Burnt popcorn. Fastest way to lose microwave privileges forever. 
  • Microwaved boiled cabbage. Can you not smell that?
  • Broccoli. Save it for your house, please. It’s too pungent for the office. 
  • Corn Nuts. When chewed, these sound like tiny, yet very real, landmines of crunch that make people twitch. Plus, Corn Nut breath is highly offensive.
  • Any loud, crunchy food, actually. Things that made the list: apples, chips, even ice. Please quit crunching ice. (Note: this author loves apples, so I rallied the PayScalers who share desk space near me to declare our area an Apple Friendly Zone. Life is good in the AFZ.)

People That Drive Us Crazy

Do You Know What You're Worth?

  • The Mannerless: Chewing with your mouth open, smacking your food, talking with your mouth full, leaving crumbs everywhere. Have you no dignity?
  • Slurpers. Whether you are drinking tea or enjoying soup, please do so quietly, without those sloppy sounds that make people sick. 
  • Meal Commenters: “That looks disgusting.” “How can you eat that?” And the worst, “That is so fattening!” You can just keep your opinions to yourself while I eat my Dorito-Donut in peace, thank you.
  • Slobs: You are a grownup, sir or madam. Wash your dishes. 

But the worst thing that can happen in the office, when it comes to food? My favorite response comes from Aubrey, a PayScale co-worker: 

“I hate having to sit in a conference room full of extra-aromatic cookies when I should not eat cookies because I had two plates of cheese for dinner. But that may be too personal.”

Tell Us What You Think

Is your biggest office-food pet peeve not listed here? Share your misery on Twitter using the hashtag #CasualFriday. Go ahead, vent a little. You’ll feel so much better. 

Burnt popcorn

(Photo Credit: Smile, It’s Shan/flickr)

Alida Mooreston
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Going Insane
Going Insane

I work in a very tiny office consisting of only 5 people including myself. My boss and my other coworker brings an apple to eat every damn day and it drives me insane. We don’t have lunch room/area so everyone has to eat at their desks. I can’t stand the sound so much that when they eat their apples I have to take a pause on what I am doing and plug my ears until they’re done. One day I… Read more »


Going Insane, you are suffering from Misophonia. I Understand you mate. You should see your GP soon. One fine day you might land up in jail for kicking a** of your boss. 😀

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